The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine L. Chao has announced 14 members to serve on the National In-Flight Sexual Misconduct Task Force (Task Force), a subcommittee of the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC). The Task Force is being established pursuant to the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 (FAA Act), signed by President Trump on October 5, 2018. The 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act also requested that the Department establish such a Task Force.
The Task Force will review and evaluate current practices, protocols, and requirements of U.S. airlines in responding to and reporting allegations by passengers of sexual misconduct on board commercial aircraft. It will also provide recommendations on best practices relating to training, reporting, and data collection regarding incidents of sexual misconduct by passengers onboard commercial aircraft.
The Secretary has appointed representatives from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Office of Victims of Crime and Office on Violence Against Women), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), national organizations which specialize in providing services to sexual assault victims, national consumer protection organizations, national travel organizations, labor organizations representing flight attendants and pilots, state and local law enforcement agencies, airports, and air carriers as set forth in the FAA Act and the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The Secretary selected Task Force members for their expertise in the travel industry or their relevant subject matter expertise as well as their willingness and ability to actively participate in meeting the Task Force’s objective. The Task Force members are:
- Allison Ausband, Senior Vice President for In Flight Service, Delta Air Lines, as representative of airlines.
- Christopher Bidwell, Senior Vice President, Security, Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), as representative of airports.
- Katherine Chon, Director of Office on Trafficking in Persons, HHS, as representative of HHS.
- Darlene Hutchinson Biehl, Director of Office for Victims of Crime, DOJ, as representative of DOJ’s Office for Victims of Crime.
- Judith S. Kaleta, Deputy General Counsel, DOT, as DOT representative and Chair of Sexual Misconduct Task Force.
- David L. Maggard, Chief, Los Angeles Airport Police, as representative of state and local law enforcement agencies.
- Sunitha Menon, Chief of Consulting Services Operations, Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), as representative of national organizations providing services to sexual assault victims.
- Lyn Montgomery, President, Transport Workers Union – Local 556, as representative of labor organizations representing flight attendants.
- Kaori Paris, United Airlines Pilot, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), as representative of labor organizations representing pilots.
- Eben Peck, Executive Vice President of Advocacy, American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), as representative of national travel organizations.
- Sharon Pinkerton, Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Policy, Airlines for America, as representative of airlines.
- Matthew Ploskunak, Program Manager of International Violent Crimes, FBI, as representative of the FBI.
- Frances Smith, Adjunct Fellow, Competitive Enterprise Institute, as representative of consumers.
- Katherine Sullivan, Acting Director of Office on Violence Against Women, DOJ, as representative of DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women.
The duties of the Task Force members and the operation of the Task Force will be discussed at the first meeting of the ACPAC in 2019. An ACPAC meeting was to be held on January 16, 2019, but is being rescheduled due to the lapse in funding. At that meeting two other topics – the transparency of airline ancillary service fees and involuntary changes to itineraries – will also be discussed. This meeting will be open to the public. Additionally, DOT will stream the event live on the internet.
Information from US Department of Transportation